Writing your own vows

Writing your own vows is not an easy task there are many things that you need to consider before you put pen to paper. Can you handle the stress? Are you up to the task of having the most intimate talk of your life in front of all your friends and family? If the answer is yes then here are a few tips and things you need to do to prepare for the big speech.

1. Make sure your ceremony officiant will actually allow personalized vows. Certain celebrants and houses of worship may require you to recite a specific set of traditional vows. And remember: Even some of the most accommodating officiants will want to review your words in advance.

2. We can't say this enough: Don't leave writing your vows until the day before the wedding! You'll be too nervous, excited and rattled to give them the time and thought they deserve. Give yourselves at least a month, or work on your vows in that pocket of time after you've set up all your major vendors and before you have to start thinking about the details. Vow writing should be done in a relaxed, not rushed, frame of mind. Some loose deadlines to aim for: Try to get a first draft together about three weeks before the wedding and have your final version completed at least two days out.

3. To get inspired, start by reading traditional, by-the-book vows -- from your own religion, if you practice a certain faith, but others, as well -- to see what strikes a chord with you. You can incorporate these into the original words you write, or simply use them as a jumping-off point to base your personalized vows on.

4. Make sure you and your fiance are both on the same page. Are you each going to write your own vows, or will you write them together? If you're writing them separately, will you want to run them by each other before the wedding? If you're writing them together, will they be completely different for each of you, or will you recite some of the same words and make the same promises to each other, as you would with traditional vows? If you want them to be a surprise on your wedding day, make sure you both send a copy of what you've written to your officiant or to one friend or family member so they can check that your vows are about the same length and similar in tone.

5. An outline can get you started by helping to establish a structure. For example, plan to first talk about how great your fiance is and then about how you work together as a couple; pause to quote your favorite writer and then go into your promises to each other.

6. Don't make your vows so personal that they're cryptic -- or embarrassing! You've invited your family and friends to witness your vows in order to make your bond public, so be sure everyone feels included in the moment. That means putting a limit on inside jokes, deeply personal anecdotes and obscure nicknames or code words.

7. Don't make them too long -- aim for about one minute or so (it's longer than it sounds!). Your vows are the most important element of your ceremony, but that doesn't mean they should go on for hours.

8. These are words meant to be heard by a live audience, so check that they sound good when spoken. Read your vows out loud to make sure they flow easily. Watch out for tongue twisters and super-long sentences -- you don't want to get out of breath or stumble.